Most of us have been taught to think that happiness can be dependent on things we don’t control like the weather, if we get that job we applied for, or if he calls for a second date. This gives us the belief that something outside of us is in charge.
The way I teach, and what science shows is that your happiness is entirely under your control.
There are four quick factors that you can use to set a stable foundation for your happiness. When these four things are in place it’s like planting a garden in fertile soil. Sure seeds can grow in a desert where during a drought, but they flourish when they have rich soil, adequate nutrients, and a supportive environment; we really aren’t that different.
Four Foundational Pillars
- Sleep Well
- Move Your Body
- Feed Your Body & Mind Good Things
- Begin with Intention
Every human has an amount of sleep that works for their body. The chart below is based on averages and is a good guideline to how much someone of your age should sleep however we are all different. My guideline for sleep is you should awaken on your own (no alarm clock) feeling well rested. If you aren’t you need more sleep. The simplest way to get this is by going to bed earlier. Yet, many adults, especially parents of young children, don’t. They have spent all day at work and taking care of their family’s needs and now they want some “me time”. I get it. But I encourage you to try balancing your me time with getting to bed at a better time for your bod. Give yourself an earlier bedtime and stick to it. Start with a half hour earlier than you currently head to bed and see if getting up is any easier. If not, try another 1/2 hour.
Move Your Body
The second pillar for a solid happiness foundation is to move your body. It may sound simple however your body is designed for walking, for running, for farming and hunting. Thanks to technology, we live a fairly sedentary lifestyle in this day and age. Most of us don’t make trips to the well for water or carry our dinner home after we have chased it down. Our bodies need more movement than most of us give them. What you need to do is take breaks between activities to stretch, to run, to dance, to play- to do whatever it is it gets you moving active and allows your body to have a physical break. The chemicals released when you exercise are the ones that contribute to a positive mood. Feeling grumpy- take a walk!
Feed Your Body & Mind Good Things
The old computer saying “garbage in, garbage out” also pertains to our bodies. If you aren’t fueling yourself with a healthy diet & fueling your brain with positive thoughts, you will be more likely to have a less desirable outcome. But what is healthy fuel for my body? There’s the paleo diet, the vegan diet, there’s juicing and the raw food movement- how do I know what healthy really is? Your body will tell you. You should feel vital and flourishing. Hints you are off-track would be feeling like you are denying yourself or severe cravings. I would recommend books like Deepak Chopra’s “What Are You Hungry For” as a good place to start.
As for mind fuel; don’t listen to the news all day long and definitely not before bed. Have you noticed what they report? It’s all disasters, conflict and crisis! Try podcasts that uplift or reading instead. Neuroscience shows that your brain becomes better at looking for the things it sees most. Strengthen the pathways to positive, motivational and inspirational thoughts.
Begin with Intention
In all aspects of life, it helps to journey with clarity. Knowing what you are doing, what you are thinking, how you are feeling and what’s going on around you allows you to move forward from a place of intention rather than reaction.
Spend time in the morning setting an intention for your day. I use ones like “everyone I contact will feel my light and its warmth”. When you have a meeting, think about its purpose before it begins. “I need to end this meeting with clear financial targets”. With your family and friends, “I want to hear what they are excited about in their lives today”. Clarity that gossip or negative self-talk are not part of who you are discourage others from engaging in these patterns around you.
After the foundation is set…
Now you are ready to focus on flourishing. Check my blog for the happiness habits
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The truth is belonging starts with self-acceptance. your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance because believing that you’re enough is what gives you courage to be authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect. -Brene Brown
One of the quickest ways to be a little happier is learning about yourself. When you know why you like the things you like, feel the way you feel, or act the way you act, it allows you to recognize that other people in your life are not exactly the same as you.
Being a student of yourself can start with simple questions like:
Am I a morning person or a night person?
Do you prefer alone time or are you more of a social butterfly?
To reduce alcohol consumption do you need to abstain entirely or are you able to control your impulses if you just drink moderately?
Are you better at starting projects than you are at finishing them?
These questions allow you to see why relationships at work or at home can become difficult if we assume everyone is like us. My husband likes to be held accountable. He knows this about himself and knows that if he has an accountability partner he is more likely to stay on task. I am the exact opposite. When I say I will do something, it will get done. If you remind me I feel like you don’t trust me to take care of things. If we each assumed we were the same as the other, life could get pretty frustrating around our house.
I have become a “questionnaire junkie” and whether it’s learning my Meyers Briggs type (ENFP), my Enneagram (7), my Dosha (I am a rare tri-doshic) or my habit forming tendancies (Upholder) I can’t get enough understanding of why I am all the things I am.
Why is knowing yourself important? Self-confidence increases with self-awareness. This boosts happiness.
Knowing yourself also helps you to examine your beliefs to see if they align with who you are. As a child, our beliefs come from parents, teachers, peers, and the media. When we stop and examine the source we quite often see the disparity between who we are and what we believe.This comes in the form of limiting beliefs like
- “I’m not thin enough”
- “I’m not smart enough”
- “No one listens to me”
- “Big girls don’t cry.”
- “People never change.”
As you expose the fallacy of these beliefs you expand your awareness and become more of who you really are; your true self.
It’s not too late to sign up for Deepak Chopra & Oprah Winfrey’s 21 Day Meditation on Belief
Want your own personal guide on your journey to self-knowledge? I currently have 2 local coaching spaces and 1 online space available.
Or are you more self-directed? Check out these books for great ideas and inspiration.